Dr. Benjamin Schwartz P'21 Visits Society of Skeptics
Paula Hong '16

Northwell Health’s Eastern Region Director of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at South Shore University Hospital, Dr. Benjamin Schwartz P’21, revisited Blair Academy to deliver his second Society of Skeptics talk on the history of robotic surgery, the development of the daVinci® Surgical System robot, which he brought to Blair once before in 2018, and what he believes the future of robots will look like.

The daVinci® surgical system robot allows surgeons to perform complex, minimally invasive procedures with precision and accuracy using robotic technology. The system is a cutting-edge platform designed to expand the surgeon’s capabilities and offer different options to patients. Students were excited yet again to work with daVinci. To watch his presentation, click below:

“I think what was unexpected during our previous visit to Blair was how the students and teachers were able to use the experience, of experiencing the robot and understanding its use, and applying those topics to the subjects they were presently studying at Blair,” said Dr. Schwartz of his first visit. 

Before leading the development of daVinci, Dr. Schwartz served as a gynecologic oncologist and was a fellow in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American College of Surgeons, as well as a diplomate of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In 2015, he was named the regional director of obstetrics and gynecology for Northwell Health’s eastern region as well as the chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, New York. Dr. Schwartz oversees women’s inpatient and outpatient care and is Northwell’s lead clinician for the development of post-graduate programs.

Dr. Schwartz obtained his medical degree from the George Washington University School of Medicine after graduating from Dartmouth College. He completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where he served as administrative chief resident. During his residency, Dr. Schwartz completed a Galloway Fellowship in gynecologic oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He then completed subspecialty training in a three-year fellowship in gynecologic oncology at the Cleveland Clinic.

“It’s very exciting for me to speak to high school students because I see them as our future,” said Dr. Schwartz, whose daughter, Abby, graduated from Blair Academy this past May. “Having an opportunity like Skeptics to explore students’ interests and to have better insight into the different professions there are in the world, I think, is a unique experience offered at Blair that isn’t offered anywhere else.”

Of the many lessons Dr. Schwartz plans to offered during his talk, he emphasized two: Be passionate about what one does and be creative.

“It’s really important to be passionate about what you do, and I hope that the students gained some insight not only into my enthusiasm in my professional career, but also the enthusiasm among the engineers and the technicians and the nurses and everyone on the healthcare team,” said Dr. Schwartz. “Also, to be innovative and to be creative. It’s hard to imagine if we said to folks in the healthcare industry 20 years ago that one day, we’d have robots doing surgical procedures, I’m sure everyone would giggle and laugh and now there are thousands of robots all over the world—all because someone was creative and innovative.”

History of Skeptics

The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.

The program, which is funded in part by the Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, is an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon. ’65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are thought-provoking, engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial.

For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please visit Blair’s website.

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